The question of whether to switch to cloud technology or to stick with old infrastructure is one that many small businesses are presently facing. The fact is that cloud technology offers a variety of features that will benefit the average small enterprise. Still, jumping into any new technology without looking closely at it could lead to problems further down the road.
A small business that is considering a cloud service should bear in mind that there are different types of cloud services. Some provide only the hardware, so that a small business can continue using its own operating system. Some cloud services supply both the hardware and the operating system, and still others provide hosted applications. The cloud services that provide businesses with hosted applications essentially handle of all of their IT needs. Outsourcing all IT needs is beneficial for companies that only need access to applications and do not want any of the problems associated with creating their own.
The cloud technology benefits that a small business can look forward to include:
No Upfront Cost
The difference between cloud technology and standard IT is similar to the difference between renting something and owning it. Instead of a large initial investment in technology, a company pays only smaller monthly fees. Instead of having to deal with the necessity of upgrading after a certain amount of time, the business owner simply leaves that up to their cloud service provider. The business will always be equipped with the latest versions of applications and equipment without needing an IT staff or to constantly shop for new things.
A Scalable System
This allows for the technological resources of a business to grow along with it. One of the big hindrances to the growth of small enterprises is the inability of their technology to adapt as the business grows. The inability to scale up means that the limitations of technology may become evident as the workload of the business increases. Those limitations can result in system failures and lost sales. Cloud technology is easily adjusted to meet the demands placed upon it. Furthermore, many service providers will charge based on the resources that a customer uses, which means that the business saves money during slow periods instead of paying for resources that they are not using.
Eliminating IT Maintenance Expenses
Maintaining technology can be a major financial burden on a small business. Using a cloud service allows this cost to be limited as the provider will handle the maintenance. The customer will not have to have the expense of an in-house IT department nor will they have to pay for upgrades to servers and other equipment. Instead of having to pay for IT services, they can focus their efforts and money on growing their business.
Tools for Collaboration
With cloud technology, small businesses have the tools needed for employees to work to together and with clients; they can do this no matter where they are. It is now possible to collaborate with others across the country and across the globe. It is easy for individuals to work from home, or from the airport while using a range of different devices including smartphones and tablets. Anywhere that they can find an internet connection becomes a place where they can do business.
The Variety of Applications
Essentially any application that a small business needs is available in the cloud. There are applications on the market for invoicing and project tracking as well as for processing transactions and brainstorming.
Few businesses these days can afford to neglect technology. It provides too much of an advantage to those enterprises that use it wisely. Switching to the cloud is an option for even the smallest enterprises to get affordable access to the most sophisticated IT tools available.
“Cloud Button” courtesy of Pixomar / www.freedigitalphotos.net
About the Author: Andrew Womble is the marketing writer for praktika.com, an online dental software and cloud service for small medical practices. He has a passion for small business success and loves to share his knowledge for the changing world of small business development and how to stay competitive.